A joy of commuting (and there aren’t many!) is listening to podcasts. I particularly enjoy the funny, passionate, nerdy podcasts about SF, fantasy and pop culture, many of which are by funny, nerdy and opinionated women. So I was a little disappointed on listening to my favourite, Verity!, a fantastic Doctor Who podcast, to hear a comment by Tansy Rayner-Roberts on Sarah Jane Smith as an “honorary mother”.
Maybe because I am not a mother (not by choice) that the scene at the end of the Sarah Jane Adventures episode Invasion of the Bane where Sarah Jane discusses how her career as a journalist investigating aliens, her collection of alien tech and the link to the black hole where K9 is in permanent stasis in her house has made having a relationship very hard for her affects me. The dialogue suggests that no relationship could ever live up to her experiences of travelling with the Doctor, and even hints that she is still a little in love with him; a little retconning from Russell T Davis there as my recollection of Sarah Jane’s relationship with the 4th Doctor is more one of fond exasperation than romance.
At the end of the episode, Sarah Jane formally adopts the Archetype boy that is the subject of an experiment on human DNA, her computer having provided the necessary authentifications. She names him Luke, as this is what she had always wanted to call her own child.
Sarah Jane is not an honorary mother. She is a mother. Throughout the run of the Sarah Jane Adventures we see Sarah Jane as Luke’s mum, caring for him, protecting him from danger and yet not preventing him from becoming involved in her adventures. I hope Tansy misremembered this episode; I found it very touching.